A tour-de-force second collection (after The House on Mango Street, 1989--not reviewed) by a Chicana poet who writes of life in Southwest border towns. Cisneros's tactile prose brings to vibrant being the sights, smells, joys, and heartaches of growing up female in a culture where women are both strong and victimized, men are unfaithful, and poverty is mitigated only by family, community, and religious ties. Despite hardship, the spirit remains vital, whether as children taking pleasure in a bed shared with sisters ("My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn"), playing with charred, fire-sale Barbie dolls ("Barbie-Q"), or running up and down the aisles of an old movie house ("Mexican Movies")--or as young women stealing love in dark places at too high a price ("One Holy Night" and the title story). These women lead hard but passionate lives, perhaps none more so than the wife of a Mexican general whose story unfolds in the extraordinarily evocative "Eyes of Zapata." It begins "I put my nose to your eyelashes. The skin of the eyelids as soft as the skin of the penis. . . . For the moment I don't want to think of your past nor your future. For now you are here, you are mine." Catholicism is another force operating here, brought alive in the ex votos of "Little Miracles, Kept Promises," and the smart-alecky "Auguiano Religious Articles Rosaries Statues." A collection that heralds a powerfully original talent--all the more appreciated given the all-too-often carbon-copy feel of much of today's fiction.